Local News

Second U.S. history course added in N.C. high schools

Posted December 2, 2010 11:54 a.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2010 12:20 p.m. EST

— The State Board of Education on Thursday revised the high school curriculum to require students to pass two U.S. history courses to graduate.

"Our students cannot become productive citizens without an understanding of the people and events that have shaped our nation and our world," Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said in a statement.

The first course will focus on exploration of the New World through Reconstruction, while the second course will study the late 19th century through contemporary times.

The new standards take effect with high school freshmen in 2012-13.

The requirement reverses an earlier proposal that called for 11th-graders to study U.S. history only from 1877 to the present.

Officials had said that the single course would allow more time to study recent historical events, such as the Vietnam War and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, but critics said it wouldn't have offered students enough of a background of the early years of the country, up to and including the Civil War.

Under the standards for social studies instruction that the Board of Education approved Thursday, students also would study U.S. history in the fifth and eighth grades, North Carolina history in the fourth and eighth grades and world history in the sixth and seventh grades.

The new standards also include a stronger focus on financial literacy.

"It is never too early to start gaining an understanding of how to manage personal finances," State Treasurer Janet Cowell, a member of the education board, said in a statement. "(The new standards) will provide every North Carolina child with the basic financial skills to achieve personal and financial success."